November 5th marks the end of Daylight Savings Time for most of the U.S. In case you forgot, this time of year, we roll back our clocks an hour. While most of us will be happy for an extra hour of sleep, for the most part, people are creatures of habit and the change in time disrupts our internal rhythms, contributing to the increased potential for deleterious health risks and injury.
Beating Daylight Savings’ Effect on Workers
The following tips from NIOSH are a good way to get in front of the upcoming change and protect yourself at work and at home:
- Remind workers that several days after the time changes are associated with somewhat higher health and safety risks due to disturbances to circadian rhythms and sleep.
- It can take one week for the body to adjust sleep times and circadian rhythms to the time change so consider reducing demanding physical and mental tasks as much as possible that week to allow oneself time to adjust.
- Remind workers to be especially vigilant while driving, at work, and at home to protect themselves since others around them may be sleepier and at risk for making an error that can cause a vehicle crash or other accident.
- Research found men and people with existing heart disease may be at risk for a heart attack after the time change.
- Workers can improve their adaptation to the time change by using these suggestions (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2013). Circadian rhythms and sleep are strongly influenced by several factors including timing of exposure to light and darkness, times of eating and exercise, and time of work. One way to help the body adjust is to gradually change the times for sleep, eating, and activity.
- For the Fall time change, starting about three days before, one can gradually move the timing of wakening and bedtime, meals, exercise, and exposure to light later by 15 – 20 minutes each day until these are in line with the new time. About 1 hour after awakening in the morning, you can keep the lights dim and avoid electronic lit screens on computers, tablets, and so forth can help the body move to a later time that it is ready to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night.
- Being sleep deprived before the time change will increase the health and safety risks, so make it a priority to get enough sleep and be well rested several days before the time change.
Related Course: 4-Hour Flagging Training
For more info on the impacts on sleep deprivation and the workplace, check out NIOSH’s Shift Work and Long Hours page.